Death by Coronavirus or Death by Poverty?
By Rick Hayes
Health experts in the U.S. and around the globe are continually fine-tuning their predictions regarding the severity of the Coronavirus based on what they believe is more precise information.
But the wide range of assessments regarding actual infections and death rates sometimes appears as if the accuracy of these predictions is as dependable as a hot stock tip but with higher consequences.
On March 28th, The United States surpassed the 100,000 number of Coronavirus cases with more than 1,700 deaths. The photos of makeshift morgues and long lines of people awaiting testing have left an indelible impression in the minds of many that the virus is as real as it gets. Yet, many Americans are questioning the extreme steps taken by U.S. officials.
In a politically correct world, the statement "one death is too many." is all that would be needed to shut down the planet. But in the real world, that assertion does not address the facts that, in life, many times, there is a complex balance between the possibility of death against other urgent demands.
A March 13th New York Magazine article stated that the CDC had projected estimates that the "U.S. coronavirus epidemic could infect between 160 million and 214 million people over more than a year — and kill anywhere from 200,000 to 1.7 million people in the country." Hearing numbers like that would undoubtedly translate into the government demanding widespread shutdowns and significant quarantine measures. But the problem is that the shutdowns that will have actual consequences are based on predictions that are changing daily.
Just a few days later, on March 26th, a RealClear Politics article wrote about what White House coronavirus task force member Dr. Deborah Birx stated at a press conference. "When people start talking about 20% of a population getting infected, it's very scary, but we don't have data that matches that based on our experience." Birx went on to say that an earlier study was published that suggested the estimated death totals in the U.K. would be close to 500,000 and that the United States would see 2.2 million deaths. "They've adjusted that number in the U.K. to 20,000. Half a million to 20,000. We are looking at that in great detail to understand that adjustment." she said.
Maturity and leadership sometimes demand the individual to choose between two seemingly impossible options. A "pick your poison" kind of scenario. The questions surrounding how to best combat the Coronavirus have included the controversial subject of when to start getting people back to work.
It seems inhumane to suggest that people should open themselves to a potentially deadly virus for the sake of money and economics. But the fact that a national depression will kill many hundreds of thousands should at least be discussed as part of the decision making process.
So the choice facing the President and others is weighing the possibility of additional deaths by easing the Coronavirus shutdowns against the possibility of national economic depression and the deaths that the resulting poverty would produce. e attributable to poverty.
So the choice facing the President and others is weighing the possibility of additional deaths by easing the Coronavirus shutdowns against the possibility of a national economic depression and the deaths that the resulting poverty would produce.
According to Worldometer, real-time world statistics, 14.8 % of deaths resulting from the Coronavirus are people over 80 years of age, followed by 8% from those 70 to 79 and 3.6% of people between the ages of 60 to 69. Perhaps a compromise of care would be to somehow concentrate resources on those age groups most affected by the virus along with other subgroups with health conditions most susceptible to a fatal result from exposure to the virus.
In this way, society could recover both from a financial point of view as well as in terms of health.
© 2020 R. Hayes